"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

That white guy Shakespeare

I've just written a blog about the Afro-Russian poet Alexander Pushkin who, during his short life (he was fatally wounded at a duel at the age of 37 in 1736) managed to produce an enormous amount of rhymed verse, plays and prose - and is until this day considered the founder of the Russian literature and the greatest Russian poet.

Alexander Pushkin was black.

Yesterday was his birthday.

I did not see a lot of celebrations of his heritage as a heritage of a literary genius of African descent.

What I saw instead is an announcement that Yale students call for abolishment of a "core course" in English literature.


Because only white male straight poets were included into the curriculum.  And students rebelled and claimed that the English major must be "decolonized".

So, who "colonized" the English major at Yale university?

Here are the names of the offending poets:   

For the fall semester:
  1. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400);
  2. Edmund Spenser (1552-1599);
  3. William Shakespeare (1564-1616);
  4. John Donne (1572-1631), and
For the spring semester:

5.  John Milton (1607-1664);
6. Alexander Pope (1688-1744);
7. William Wordsworth (1770-1850);
8. TS Eliot (1888-1965)

The course was meant to "provide all students with a generous introduction to the abiding formal and thematic concerns of the English literary tradition.”

Students actually filed a petition to abolish the course which says, among other things:

“A year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity,” the petition reads. “The Major English Poets sequences creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of color. When students are made to feel so alienated that they get up and leave the room, or get up and leave the major, something is wrong.”

I wonder if "students of color" or women or "queer folk" would stand up and leave the room where they are taught, let's say, chemistry, or physics, or any other science that was, until recently dominated by white males.

It apparently does not occur to students of any identity that even in the United States, homosexuality was a crime until just 15 years ago, and it was punishable by death in Europe in the middle ages.

What kind of "literary contributions of the 'queer folk'" - acknowledging their homosexuality in the open - do our modern-time students expect?

Actually, hints at homosexuality exists in the works of the same:

Geoffrey Chaucer;
Edmund Spenser;
William Shakespeare;
John Donne

Should straight students now get offended of the same course and feel that the course creates a "hostile environment"?

Actually, to me, a person who has been born and raised in a Communist country, the USSR, this petition caused a flashback to the years of the so-called "socialist realism" in the literature.

Because the Yale students did not say the poets chosen were bad poets, or that they did not reflect the literary tradition - which is exactly what they came to Yale to study.

They did not like the fact that the identity of the poets and topics of their poetry - allegedly - did not reflect the latest-day concept of diversity, which did not exist at the time the overwhelming majority of these poets (7 of 8) lived and worked.

In the USSR a person could not be considered a bona fide writer worth to be known to the public if he or she did not write in the tradition of "socialist realism".

My memory is still crammed - from childhood, cannot uncram it - with verses I was made to memorize at school that, if I recite today, will raise quite a few eyebrows.

Yet, at that time that was the requirement of the day for poets and writers who wanted to see their name in print to write in that "tradition".

The verses that I was made to memorize at school promoted loyalty to the country and the Communist party beyond your life, rejection of relatives and their religion,  glorifying snitching to authorities of your parents if they were idelogically opposed to the party.

Movies in the country swept by pre- and post-WWII hunger and destruction was about the greatness of Stalin and of the same communist party.

The true issues were not allowed to be described.

It appears that now the future rulers of this country - the intellectual elite from Yale - claim they will be offended by simply learning about the literary tradition, because the literary masterpieces they are assigned to read were not created by women, "people of color" and "queer folk".

As to the "queer folk" I already pointed out that the youngsters who were keyboard-happy to write and file the petition, did not give themselves time to research the history of the time when the "assigned" poets lived and whether those poets were actually "closet" homosexuals who were simply afraid to reveal their identity because there was a death penalty for homosexuality that was considered a sin by the church.

The students did not consider that women were predominantly illiterate at that time and property of men - so what kind of creativity, and especially published literary works, could you expect from women of 14th to 18th century?

For example, a 12th-13th century female poet Marie de France was (as scholars say) an abbess and a half-sister of English King Henry II.

Marie De France wrote in French, so her work cannot be attributed to the English literary tradition.

Another known female medieval poet, and also a member of the nobility, is known only by name, Gwerful Fychan - and her literary works reportedly did not survive, and she lived in Wales, which is a different language.

There are many medieval female poets known - but all of them appear to be from either Wales, or France, or Spain, or Italy, or they were Arabic, so their works could not be assigned in an English major class.

What I did not see in the students' petition is suggestions.

The youngsters came to Yale to study English literature and the English literary tradition.

That literary tradition was created gradually, for centuries, and was influenced by history of the period when literary works were created.

While it may be offensive that women, and people of color, and homosexuals were not well represented - or represented at all - in the English literary tradition of several centuries back, if that is part of history, history cannot be re-written just because we want it.

If there were no known outstanding female poets, or openly homosexual poets, or poets who were "people of color" who contributed to the English tradition of 14th to 19th centuries - we cannot re-write the history where a few white males were the privileged class and prevented education of everybody else. 

That history cannot be re-written, and hiring a modern female African American poet will not replace knowledge of the English literary tradition of 14th - 19th centuries.

If students want to find such authors - they can just as well do it, and present the faculty with the names and the works they want to be assigned, which they did not do in their petition.

Yet, if students pressure the faculty as to how to restructure assigned courses, the university can always ask such students to go some place else, where they will like the curriculum better.

Because a petition without any suggestions as to who is going to replace the "eight white male poets", the renowned classics of English literature, is simply pressure seeking publicity and disrupting work of the school, and nothing else.

I cannot imagine while people cannot read - and enjoy - good poetry without seeing whether the person who wrote it is a woman, what is the author's sexual preferences and what is the author's skin color.

It is profoundly bizarre to me to assess the worth of a work of art by the identity of who created it.  If it is written by a woman - the poem is good, by a white male - bad?

If Yale yields to this pressure, we will then see pressure upon professors in other courses, and in other schools - from chemistry to math - to assign for studying only the work created by "women", "people of color" and "queer folk", without regard of the actual value of that work, and while overlooking the work created by "white male" authors.

If the Yale faculty allows students to control the curriculum, governed by the students' desire to remain illiterate as to the actual classics of the English literary tradition because of identity of their authors, that would be the end of education.

I will then suggest, as a taxpayer, that IRS should withdraw the tax exemption from Yale, and from any other "public charity" schools, if schools eliminate proper educational content from the curriculum because of the color of the author's skin.

I wonder if William Shakespeare could imagine that at any time in the future he and his works will be sought to be banned from the curriculum of one of the best universities in the world because of the color of his skin.

To those students who continue to engage in this educational racism, I suggest: stop using all modern time inventions and conveniences unless you verify that they were not created by white males, but instead are created exclusively by women, people of color and "queer folks".

Be consistent.

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